USA Today Sports

West Virginia’s Jordan Thompson made a lunging 32-yard catch over Alabama cornerback Brandon Sylve in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game, where the Mountaineers fell 33-23.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — He earned kudos for his backward-somersault catch against Alabama, but Jordan Thompson earned no sympathy for getting crunched on a pass he dropped.

Such was the game of extremes for the junior receiver nicknamed “Squirt,” who caught five passes for 62 yards in West Virginia’s 33-23 loss.

Thompson’s rather astonishing 32-yard grab—a tumbling, lunging —was the Mountaineers’ longest play from scrimmage. In the fourth quarter, however, with WVU in Alabama territory and needing a touchdown to tie, he mishandled a pass over the middle mere nano-seconds before a jarring hit by Crimson Tide safety Landon Collins.

Ben Queen/WVMetroNews photo

Alabama safety Landon Collins stares down after belting West Virginia receiver Jordan Thompson.

After squirming on the turf for only a couple beats, Thompson climbed up even as he realized “I couldn’t breathe.”

He’s not sure how long it took him to finally catch his wind: “I mean, I couldn’t breathe, which was the bad thing, but I knew I had to get up. I couldn’t just lay there on the field.”

The collision made ESPN’s highlight package, exacerbated by the receiver’s 5-foot-7, 165-pound build being halted by the 6-foot, 220 safety.

With Thompson sprinting downfield and looking back for Clint Trickett’s pass, he didn’t see Collins closing from the deep Cover-2 spot. No flag was thrown because Collins led with his shoulder and made primary contact with Thompson’s chest.

Thompson described the play as “a clean hit that wasn’t targeting at all” and one that left him sore on Sunday. West Virginia receivers coach Lonnie Galloway sounded sore Thompson didn’t hang on to the pass.

“He lets our guys knock the crap out of him in practice and he hangs on to it there, so we expect him to catch it in games,” said Galloway, who couldn’t resist ribbing the slot receiver. “He knows you’re going to get hit working that middle … but they’ve got great hospitals down there in Atlanta.”

On Tuesday, Thompson was among the receivers doing post-practice pushups, the penalty for his drop on Collins’ hit and an earlier third-down pass that eluded him as he crossed through a pack of Alabama defenders.

“I could have been more clutch in key situations—had a couple of drops,” Thompson said. “I made a big play, but I feel I need to be more consistent. I was visualizing what I was going to do after I caught the ball instead of catching the ball first. Just lack of focus.”

Galloway said the miscues were surprising given the reliable hands Thompson exhibited throughout the preseason: “In all the 29 practices we had, I bet you Squirt hadn’t dropped 10 total passes.”

Shelton Gibson’s debut: Galloway came off the sideline to coach up redshirt freshman Shelton Gibson after a third-down drop during the second half. While Gibson called the encounter encouraging, Galloway admitted he might have chosen different words “if Shelton was two years older.”

Gibson, who tweaked his knee after catching his first career pass on the previous play, said the injury wasn’t serious. He later returned and made a tackle for the kick-coverage unit.

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  • jwg66

    I don't feel like our D is competing yet. At least not on every down. We make some good plays on first and second downs but regardless of the yardage needed, we can't make a play to get off the field. That needs to change as I don't think we can outscore everyone.

  • Diaspora

    By the way, I am really tired of the whiners, criers, nay-sayers, and what is apparently just an unhappy bunch of people talking about how Alabama was down, or Alabama played bad, or this isn't the same Alabama. For crying out loud, that is Alabama that we played and if that is how they play when they are not hitting on all cylinders, them look out SEC.

    The bottom line is some of you just can't accept WVU gave them a run for their money and some loyal fans can see some good in what was accomplished last Saturday.

    I will accept we could go 4 - 8, 5 - 7 or whatever. But I tell you what, we are going to compete, and thank your lucky stars we are doing it in the "Power 5" block, and not some sorry as s second rate coalition of schools dreaming up a bunch of scenarios on how they get to the Final 4. We will play a bowl game in most of the remaining weeks of the season. Change the channel if you don't like it.

  • Diaspora

    Lest we forget... Didn't Thompson back peddle into a punt reception at the 2 yard line? We definately have to work on that, because it killed us on several occasions in '12 and '13.

  • Ghost Rider

    It's all about the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. WVU must learn how to finish close games.

  • any major dude

    K. White: Beastly
    Thompson: Inconsistent
    Wellman: Inconsistent
    Alford: Underutilized
    The rest: Must not drop passes!
    It's like the old Dave Clark 5 song: "Catch Me If You Can". ( I know-I was around before dirt was invented)

  • WVU law-daddy

    If WVU finishes 7-6 or better, the Alabama loss will be remembered somewhat fondly. If the team doesn't go bowling, the opener will be remembered as the Tide having a subpar day. Hope the first scenario happens.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      Yea, much like our opener with Oklahoma last year. I follow you.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    Towson gave up 31 pts. to Cen. Conn. I will be watching our offensive line run block vs. this team and make my prediction for the season based solely on that aspect. I will go ahead and predict this game: WVU 46, Towson St. 22.

    • Mister Man

      I'm sure everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting for your prediction.

      • Ole Sasquatch

        That's what I like to here.

        • Mister Man

          I couldn't hear you. What.

        • The bookman

          Actually Sasquatch, you've been right all along. It really comes down to line play. If we can improve at those positions, we will excel. The game is won in the trenches in the major conferences. You can fake it elsewhere. Btw, 22 is too much.

          • Ole Sasquatch

            Got it.

          • An actual athlete

            Squatch and bookie have it right. Football is blocking and tackling. I think we showed improvement on both fronts.

  • Maxeer

    Agree 100% make a few plays and we win MORE games. WVU wake up and use some urgency. I dont want to keep being a "close lost team" have what it takes to show the difference between a FBS abd FCS team. STILL not much discipline. Come on guys.

    • Mister Man

      What is a "close lost team?" Is there a lost team close by?

  • cutty77

    WVU has lost 15 out of the last 21 games. By droping balls and letting Bama score 3 points just before half time these are reasons why we have lost this many games. Trickett over throwing wide open receiver's doesn't help. He must of missed 4 or 5 big plays. We have the ball on the 2 and 5 and only score 3 points. The attention to Detail on this Team is very bad,Coaches included. WE MAKE A FEW OF THESE PLAYS WE WIN THE GAME. I'm getting tired of the same ole crap.

    • Mister Man

      Pick another team and don't post here. We won't miss you.

      • Mister Man

        We should work on those dropes.

    • Timbo G

      Sooooooo, what major college did you play for and how many winning seasons did you have? Who was the guy ripping at you all of the time? I was at the game and was well pleased with our team. I played small college football and was mediocre on my best day so I guess that's why I can appreciate a quality game and great effort. Go Mountaineers!

      • Mister Man

        Go Mountaineers!!!!

      • cutty77

        So your happy with being average i guess,not even average. We are losing 75% of games played since 0ct. 2012.

        • Flew in from Columbus

          If only they'd quit droping balls....